The Fairfield High School girls basketball season came to an end at the Northern B divisional tournament in Shelby, March 5-7.

The Eagles won their first contest defeating Wolf Point, 57-36, advancing them into the semifinal game against Malta. The M-ettes defeated Fairfield, 67-44. Playing in loser-out action on Saturday morning, the Eagles lost a close contest to Glasgow, 45-40.

“We had a very successful season finishing 11-1 in conference and 12-6 for the regular season,” said Dustin Gordon, Eagles head coach. The team’s single conference loss was to Shelby, who will be representing the 1B at the state tournament. The other losses were to Belt, Havre and Big Timber — all state championship contenders this weekend.

The divisional tournament didn’t go off without challenges for the Eagles. Senior starter Taylor Simmons suffered a knee injury in the opening contest and didn’t play the remainder of the game.

“It is frustrating how many season-ending injuries Fairfield girls basketball has had over the past several years, several occurring during tournaments,” Gordon said. “We have all experienced and often talk about players having to step up due to adversity, so we dealt with the team and mental aspect ok, but it definitely changed our whole dynamic and game plan.”

Gordon said he is typically a seven-player rotation coach by divisional. “Losing Simmons, a starter who plays multiple positions, created a challenge that is hard to resolve by the next day,” Gordon said.

“I am proud of the effort and perseverance the girls demonstrated after that first game when we lost a key component of our line-up and we still gave ourselves chances to win,” Gordon said. “We attacked the basket well and just missed some good shots that we usually hit at a better percentage.”

The Eagles will graduate four seniors this year from the team. “Seniors graduate and move on every year, but it’s never easy to see them go,” Gordon said. “The four girls from this year’s team are going to be missed with a lot of playing time, roles and scoring needing to be reallocated next year. You can never simply ‘replace’ a player and they each bring a unique skill set that all contribute to an overall team chemistry.”

It wasn’t just the seniors’ last game; it was also Coach Gordon’s final game. “After 25 years of coaching basketball, amongst other things, I have given a lot of post-game talks,” he said. “The one after that last game was probably the most difficult one I have ever had to give, partially because we lost and had such high expectations, but also because everyone in the locker room was aware of the unspoken finality of what was now going to become reality.

“I have not actually discussed my resignation from coaching with the girls, but it has not been a secret either. I have simply told the media and those who have asked about it, that I wanted to keep the focus on the girls, their team and our goals — not me.”

Gordon said when the buzzer sounded and the handshakes were done, it was all he could do to keep it together. “I took a good look around from the coaches’ box for a mental picture I will never forget and pulled it together for one last speech,” he said.

“There were a lot of emotional embraces from players, parents and my assistants following the game, and I would like to thank everyone for all the heartfelt text messages and phone calls,” he added. “I am so humbled by the outpouring of support over the past few weeks.”

Gordon added he is excited for the boys and their quest for a state trophy this weekend and is excited for all the young coaches and the positive energy they bring to Fairfield as well. “Change is hard, but change can be good,” said Gordon.

Gordon, who is the high school principal, will not be coaching next year because he has accepted the position of superintendent for Fairfield Public Schools.


Northern B divisional

Fairfield 19-8-12-18 — 57

Wolf Point 5-14-13-4 — 36

Fairfield — Madison Rosenbaum 4 2/2 10, Kenna Pitcher 10 3/6 25, Taylor Simmons 1 0/0 2, Cheyenne Maddox 2 2/2 6, Kyler Bake 1 1/2 3, Natalie Kolste 3 1/2 7, Olivia Copenhaver 0 1/2 1, Avery Pitcher 0 1/2 1. Totals: 21 13/20.

Wolf Point — Josie Kolstad 2 0/0 4, Jelle Garfield 5 2/2 12, Hamaynie Campbell 3 0/1 6, Mya Four Star 3 1/2 8, Tori Nygard 2 0/1 4, Jaylee Azure 1 0/0 2. Totals: 16 3/6.

Fouls: Fairfield 13, Wolf Point 17. Fouled out: Garfield. Three-point goals: K. Pitcher 2, Four Star.

Malta 9-20-20-18 — 67

Fairfield 12-14-11-7 — 44

Malta — Kylee Nelson 3 3/5 10, Erica Smith 3 0/0 8, Kelbee Denham 1 0/0 3, Allison Kunze 1 2/8 4, Carly Garfield 3 1/1 7, Kylie Hunter 3 1/2 8, Justine Lamb 3 3/5 9, Madison Williamson 6 3/5 16. Totals: 24 13/26.

Fairfield — Natalie Kolste 1 2/6 4, Madison Rosenbaum 0 8/14 8, Kenna Pitcher 5 10/10 20, Cheyenne Maddox 1 2/2 4, Kyler Bake 0 4/8 4, Kaylee Christensen 1 1/2 3, Olivia Copenhaver 0 1/2 1. Totals: 8 28/45.

Fouls: Malta 25, Fairfield 22. Fouled out: none. Three-point goals: Nelson, Smith 2, Denham, Hunter, Williamson.

Glasgow 14-12-10-9 — 45

Fairfield 9-14-8-9 — 40

Glasgow — Keely Fossum 5 0/0 14, Anika Peters 4 2/7 10, Abrianna Nelson 2 0/2 4, Taylor Pederson 4 0/0 8, Laura Ross 1 0/0 2, Tyann Graham 1 1/3 3, Blaire Westby 2 0/1 4. Totals: 19 3/13.

Fairfield — Natalie Kolste 2 0/0 4, Madison Rosenbaum 1 3/6 5, Kenna Pitcher 5 2/5 14, Cheyenne Maddox 2 1/1 5, Kyler Bake 1 0/0 2, Kaylee Christensen 1 0/2 2, Emma Woods 2 2/4 8. Totals: 14 8/18.

Fouls: Glasgow 18, Fairfield 22. Fouled out: Pitcher, Maddox. Three-point goals: Pitcher 2, Woods 2, Fossum 4.